The Statute of Limitations is the time after which the government is prevented from charging someone with the commission of a crime. Most crimes have statutes of limitations for several reasons. There is concern that memories fade with time. Physical evidence may deteriorate with time. If cases aren’t filed within the statute of limitations, the case is forever barred.
In cases of sexual assault, rape and other crimes, many victims (according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN) need years/decades “to fully process the trauma and understand what happened to them.” PBS reported that Rebecca O’Connor a public policy direct at RAINN stated that the laws haven’t been keeping pace with the understanding of the trauma suffered by victims.
Rainn found that seven states, including Maryland, no longer have statutes of limitations for felony sex crimes. The other states that don’t have a sex assault or rape assault statute of limitations are North Carolina, Wyoming, South Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Over half of the states now have statute of limitation exceptions if DNA evidence of the rape or sexual assault surfaces. Rainn claims though that forensic evidence takes a lot of time to review which affects when and if charges can be brought.
The time periods to bring sexual assault cases have been lifted due to the increased claims that many victims were assaulted in their youth.
Maryland’s statute of limitations exceptions
The elimination of the statute of limitations for sex crimes applies to felonies. There is no requirement that a victim report a felony sex crime within any specific time frame. There are no current exceptions to this broad rule. For most other serious felonies, the statute of limitations is 21 years or more.
One key issue that criminal defense lawyers may contest is the retroactivity of Maryland’s law. For example, until 1996 attempted rape was a misdemeanor crime, with a statute of limitations of one year. If you are accused of attempted rape, but that accusation stems from earlier than 1996, the statute of limitations has passed.
There are defenses to sexual assault crimes. The statute of limitation waiver only means the government can proceed with the filing of criminal charges. We are ready to contest the charges by showing there is a reasonable doubt, by arguing Constitutional rights were violated, by contesting the evidence, and asserting other defenses.
For help with any sexual assault or sex crime charge, contact Carey Law Office in Bowie and Crofton. Our criminal defense lawyers fight for clients in Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and the surrounding areas. For 37 years, we’ve provided strong advocacy for people charged with serious crimes. Please call 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form to get help now.